Algeria and the Ideas Prevailing in France Concerning Colonization
This brilliant 1887 paper by Doctor Gustave Le Bon, the Father of Social Psychology, constitutes the most outstanding analysis ever written of what policies must be followed in order for a colonization program to succeed. Le Bon compares the disastrous results of France's policy of "Frenchification" (i.e., assimilation) of its colonial peoples to the extremely successful results obtained by Britain and other European nations who employed a "hands off" policy with respect to their colonies' indigenes. Some of the key recommendations by Le Bon which have stood the test of time are: "Allow the natives to keep their institutions, customs, usages, and beliefs; as much as possible avoid all contact with them, and occupy ourselves as little as possible in their affairs."
January 3, 2012
Le Bon's prediction comes true!
In this remarkable 1887 work Gustave Le Bon accurately predicts that, and also details why, France's assimilationist policy with respect to its Algeria colony would ultimately fail. 75 years later in 1962 Le Bon's prediction came true, as Algeria was granted its independence. Before this, though, in 1954 the Moslem population in Algeria, long discontented with French rule, rose up in widespread rebellion. The leadership of France, rather than heeding the wise advice provided years earlier by Le Bon, sent 500,000 troops to Algeria, but this massive force was unable to crush the rebellion as the Moslems resorted to deadly and highly effective guerrilla warfare tactics. Finally, by 1962 the enormous cost in terms of money and lives lost brought the French leadership to its senses. France's assimilationist policy in Algeria, while attractive in theory, was at last recognized to be exactly what Le Bon long ago pointed it out to be in reality: completely unworkable.
-- Professor Gerald Kuhn